A mortician who was told he could not smoke on a cross-country airline flight flew into a rage of profanity and assaulted a flight attendant, a prosecutor said on the opening day of the man's trial.

Outlining the case against James Tabacca for a jury in U.S. District Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Scroggie said the trial was "about a woman who was physically assaulted for trying to do her job."But Tabacca's lawyer, Marilyn Butler, insisted Tabacca "never touched" the flight attendant during TWA Flight 853 on Dec. 30, 1987. She said dozens of smokers on the flight had created "chaos" because airline officials had banned smoking in all but six seats of the aircraft without giving passengers an opportunity to switch flights.